By: Joseph VanBuren
Somewhere along the way, in the history of heavy music, metal gave birth to hardcore. In the 90s, the distinction between the two was obvious (especially to New Yorkers), and fans of one style often didn’t care much for the other. More recently, hardcore was reunited with its mother metal, and the words have become interchangeable to describe the music of bands since that show influences from both sides. Maximum Penalty is a prime example of this amalgam, and of how it doesn’t always work. They seem to cling onto two dated sounds, forcefully combining them in an uninspiring display of trying too hard to be hard. The riffs are sometimes badass, and the band has tight chemistry, but the material is largely lackluster. Every song on Maximum Penalty’s 2009 release, Life & Times, sounds like an 80s metal band and a 90s hardcore band joined forces and laid down a track in about five minutes. If Anthrax and Agnostic Front took the time to creatively blend their styles, the result could have been really impressive. Apparently strapped for time, they instead puked out the first thing they could and left the tracks with the engineers to professionally mix and master the songs, hoping to cover up a lack of attention with great production quality. To be fair, the members of Maximum Penalty do have talent, and the band has drawn a decent fan base by staying true to the old values of heavy music. It’s just a shame that going the lazy route hasn’t generated more commercial success for them. In the same light, it’s also a shame that an underground band with such longevity has never become more ambitious and creative.